Progress Report on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks

Communicating the Benefits of Ecosystem Conservation to Canadians

The Panel emphasized that interpretation and outreach are critical management tools for conveying the significance of protected areas and for raising public awareness of hard realities concerning the serious environmental problems affecting national parks. The challenge is to use scientific data from research, monitoring and active management programs to develop meaningful learning experiences about appropriate and sustainable use. The desired outcomes are to change personal behaviours and motivate people to advocate ecosystem protection because it is relevant to their lives.

The Panel observed that not only does Parks Canada lack capacity to produce social and natural sciences information, but it has also lost many of the skilled professional interpreters needed to develop and deliver conservation messages. As well, some of the information, messages, facilities and media now being used are out of date; thus, they are often not successful in capturing people's attention.

Parks Canada's strategy seeks funds to implement its Heritage Presentation Renewal Program. This would include further research to segment audiences and determine how best to communicate with them. It would also entail identifying the types of messages to which audiences are receptive and the most effective communication techniques, media and locations to deliver them. Other priorities include delivering messages in urban communities through community outreach programming and facilities; enhancing the content of Parks Canada's very successful Internet site; and reaching out to Canada's youth by developing school curricula jointly with teachers. The common building block for these priorities is a cadre of trained professionals to develop and deliver specific conservation messages. Re-establishing this capacity is central to the long-term strategy.

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